June 8, 2018

Essential Doc Reads: Week of June 4

Anthony Bourdain at the 2013 Peabody Awards. CC BY 2.0 Peabody Awards

Essential Doc Reads is a weekly feature in which the IDA staff recommends recent pieces about the documentary form and its processes. Here we feature think pieces and important news items from around the Internet, and articles from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

Editor's Note: Not just a foodie, and not just a globetrotter, Anthony Bourdain, who died this morning of an apparent suicide, was a cultural carnivore, with an appetite for cuisine that was subsumed by his deep interest in people. He parlayed his training at the Culinary Institute of America into a media career—as a celebrity chef, a best-selling author and a host of such hit series as No Reservations and The Layover for The Travel Channel and Parts Unknown for CNN—which would earn him a Peabody Award in 2013 for, as the Peabody jury wrote, "expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure." Parts Unknown was also twice nominated for an IDA Best Episodic Series Award, in 2014 and 2017. Anthony Bourdain was blessed with an irreverent energy, a fervent curiosity and an earnest empathy. He enriched our appetites, for sure, but he also opened our hearts and minds to the world beyond us.

The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni reflects on the impact of Anthony Bourdain.

In his writing and especially on his TV shows, most recently CNN's Parts Unknown, he exhorted the rest of us to follow his lead and open our eyes and our guts to the wondrous smorgasbord of life. He insisted that we savor every last morsel of it.

In what may have been his final interview, Bourdain talked to IndieWire's Eric Kohn this week about his ethos, the #MeToo movement and his lifelong passion for movies and how it informed his television projects.

 "I'm there to listen. I don't go in asking hard-news questions, but incredibly enough, again and again, just by sitting down with people over food and giving them a platform where I can listen to them, they say extraordinary things that can be very political in their implications.” 

Elsewhere in the media arts world, in a keynote conversation at Realscreen West, as reported in Realscreen, Heather Schuster, Amazon Studio's head of unscripted programming, talked about her team, the projects they're seeking out and what's in the Amazon pipeline.

"Multiple viewpoints always improve a project, regardless. Having people who are smart and come at it with different points of view and challenge you is a good thing. We have an incredible team right now that is extremely collaborative and supportive."

From the Columbia Journalism Review, Sarah Jones writes about the growing disconnect between journalists and the people they cover.

Perhaps that’s a function of the career. Journalists aren’t supposed to become the story, and talking about your background can veer into navel-gazing. But journalists aren’t automatons, either. Whether you cover pop culture or poverty, your background shapes your path into your chosen field. And if your background includes poverty, that path contains boulders.

IndieWire's Bill Desowitz profiles Simon de Glanville, the cinematographer behind Darren Aronofsky's hit NatGeo series One Strange Rock.

But for Simon de Glanville, the Emmy-nominated British natural history and documentary cinematographer, it was a varied journey of beauty and wonder as visual metaphors for larger, cosmic statements. “Above and beyond the smaller details, there was a desire to shoot actuality stories about real people having real conversations in real places,” he said.

From the Archive, Fall 2017: "Whose Story? Five Docmakers on (Avoiding) Extractive Filmmaking"

From Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock, the question of who has the "right" to tell a community’s story has been endlessly debated this year, with no clear answer in sight. Sure, everyone can pretty much agree that "drive by" doc-making—usually involving a white journalist/filmmaker swooping down on a community of color, nabbing some sensationalistic footage over a few days, then quickly returning to an editing home base far, far away—is not the way to go about getting to any sort of deep truth surrounding an issue.


In the News

BBC Picks up The Fourth Estate


Hulu Acquires Bing Liu's Minding the Gap


POV Takes US Rights  to On Her Shoulders and The Silence of Others


Firelight Media Selects 2018 Class Impact Producer Fellows


Executive Director Anita Reher Leaving The Flaherty in September


American Documentary Announces Artist Emergency Fund


EDN Backs Campaign in Support of Turkish Documentary Filmmakers


Hulu Mounts Major Corporate Reorganization


Oscar-Winning Filmmaker Cynthia Wade Joins Honor Society, an Ad Production House


Trump Nominates Geoffrey Starks to Fill Vacant FCC Seat